Thinking about Public Education – China and East Asia versus the United States and Western culture

November 26, 2014

To understand the Chinese mind, we should start with Confucius (552 – 479 BC), who is arguably the most influential person in Chinese history and by extension the rest of East Asia: Korea, Japan, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia—thanks to China being a regional super power for more than two thousand years, while its merchants helped spread Chinese cultural influence and thought to the other East Asian countries they traded with.

An important Confucian influence on Chinese society and the rest of East Asia was his focus on education and scholarship, and it’s no secret that Chinese (and other Asian) students put in more hours in classroom study today than their Western counterparts—even in the United States.

In fact, we can measure the influence of Confucius on Asian-American students in the United States. For instance, in 2012, The Washington Post reported, “Researchers found that (high school) graduation rates vary by race, with 91.8 percent of Asian students, 82 percent of whites, 65.9 percent of Hispanics and 63.5 percent of blacks graduating on time.”

In China, the hallmark of Confucius’ thought was his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who had faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Confucius goal was to create gentlemen who carried themselves with grace, spoke correctly, and demonstrated integrity in all things. He had a strong dislike of the sycophantic “petty men,” whose clever talk and pretentious manner easily won them an audience of easy to fool people.

Confucius political/educational philosophy was also rooted in his belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern.

To understand the importance of education in Western culture, we first look at what Plato (about 423 – 346 BC), Socrates (about 469 – 399 BC) and Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) thought.

When Plato talked about the education of the body, he said we had to take Spartan military gymnastics as a model, because it was based on physical exercises and prescribed severe control over all pleasures. Plato also argued for the public character of education and that it had to be given in buildings especially built for that purpose. In these schools, boys and girls should receive the same teaching and that the educational process should start as soon as possible, as young as three-to-six-years old.

Socrates believed that there were different kinds of knowledge, important and trivial. He acknowledges that most of us know many “trivial” things, and he said that the craftsman possesses important knowledge, the practice of his craft, but that this is important only to the craftsman. But Socrates thought that the most important of all knowledge was “how best to live.” He concluded that this was not easily answered, and most people lived in shameful ignorance regarding matters of ethics and morals. Socrates devoted much thought to the concept of belief, through the use of logic.

Aristotle, however, said that the purpose of the state was to educate the people—to make them virtuous. He said, virtue was the life principle of the state. The goal of the state was to educate with a view toward its own institutions (to preserve them)—through the political education of all citizens.

It is also arguable that the Bible probably has a large impact on what many Westerners think about the value of an education, but the focus of the Bible is mostly on fear of the Lord when it comes to learning—a mixed message at best when compared to what Confucius, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle thought.

Proverbs 9:9-10 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 John 1:9 – Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.


Watch the video to discover that the agenda of the Common Core State Standards in the United States is similar to the agenda of the Prussian Model of Obedience.

In conclusion, the value of an education is clearly defined by Confucius providing a solid foundation for East Asia, while in the West, the message is murky and confusing at best, because the Bible focuses on fear of the Lord, and that Scripture is profitable for teaching and training the righteous compared to Plato’s focus on harsh Spartan physical training in addition to severe self-control over all pleasures starting at an early age, and Aristotle focused on preserving government through political education of the people—in other words, brainwashing them.

Socrates may have been closer to the way Confucius thought about the value of an education, but not as clearly defined as Confucius.

Out of this muddle of Western thought eventually emerged the 18th century, Prussian Industrial Model of education more aligned with what Aristotle thought, and this system was adopted by most of Western Culture during the industrial revolution, including the United States.

The Prussian system instituted compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students (used to classify children for potential job training), national curriculum set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten.

The Prussian public education model attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount. There was no room for individual thought or questioning authority that would develop in the United States and other Western countries after World War II.

Maybe the blind obedience that gave power to dictators like Hitler had something to do with that change in Western thought about public education, but today, with the emphasis on the Common Core State Standards and harsh punishment of children and teachers who don’t measure up, the United States may be returning to the harsher Aristotelian, Prussian Model of education to brainwash children so they grow up and give blind obedience to their leaders.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The evolution of education and knowledge—China vs. the West

October 28, 2014

In the West, Pliny’s Natural History encyclopedia (77 – 79 A.D.) was a massive compilation of practical information on medicine and on the natural world. The first institutions in Europe that were considered universities were established in Italy, France, Spain and England in the late 11th and 12th centuries A.D., and public education has been a development of the last 150 to 200 years.

In contrast, many Chinese scholars believe the history of education in China can be traced back as far as the 16th century B.C. during the late Xia Dynasty (1523-1027 B.C.). Throughout this period, education was the privilege of the elites. China Education Center.com

It was during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), that China’s first public education system was established, so it should not come as a surprise that the origins of China’s first encyclopedias can be traced to the late Han Dynasty. The biggest Chinese historiographic work of antiquity was written during this period, and Chinese calligraphy developed into an art.

Then, in 986 A.D., a Sung Dynasty emperor ordered that an encyclopedia be written.

This ancient encyclopedia is known as the Four Great Books of Song (宋四大书), which was compiled by Li Fang (925 – 996 A.D.) and other scholars during the Sung Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.).

The last book (Cefu Yuangui) was finished during the 11th century. The four encyclopedias were published with the intent to collect all known knowledge of the time. Source: History Cultural China

There were one thousand scrolls with 2,200 biographical entries.

This ancient example of the literary world printed about a thousand years ago was commissioned by Vice Primer Zhou Bida (Sung Dynasty), who had a group of scholars proof read the original copy of the encyclopedia before block printing it.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Not One Less: a movie review and cultural comparison

July 16, 2014

In the film Not One Less (1999), a thirteen-year-old girl is asked to be the long-term substitute teacher in a small Chinese village.  The teacher tells her that when he returns, if he finds all the students still there, he will pay her ten yuan—less than two American dollars.

When one student, Zhang Huike, stops coming to school, Wei Minzhim, the thirteen-year-old substitute teacher, follows him to the city.

There are several themes in this movie. The most powerful to me was the value of an education and not losing face. If Wei loses Zhang, she will fail the responsibility the teacher gave her. To succeed, she must keep all the students and teach them.

This film reveals one of the greatest cultural differences between the United States and China. More than 2,000 years ago, Confucius taught that an education was the great equalizer and the key to leaving poverty behind.

Today, many Chinese and other Asians still believe this with a passion, and this belief may explain why the on-time high school graduation for Asian-Americans in the United States is the highest when compared to all other racial groups. Culturally, the value of an education may be seen in that high school graduation rate.

On-time high school graduation rate in the U.S. by race for the 2009-10 school year

 Asian/Pacific Islander = 93%
White = 83%
Hispanic = 71%
Black – 66%

In the United States, teachers are often blamed for the lower graduation rates of Hispanics and Blacks, while in China parents take the blame. This is another significant difference between China and the United States. In China it would be unthinkable to wage war against the nation’s teachers for children who don’t learn. Instead, parents, who cared, and teachers would work together to do what they could as partners.

Zhang Yimou was the director. He says, “Chinese culture is still rooted in the countryside. If you don’t know the peasant, you don’t know China.” Because of this, there is a strong message in this movie about the urban–rural divide, which is being addressed as China sews the nation together with high-speed rail and electricity.

This a powerful movie about children, education, and poverty that shows the challenges China faces in lifting the lifestyles of almost eight hundred million Chinese, who don’t live in the cities. The challenge is to do this without losing the cultural values that flow through Chinese history like a powerful river.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.

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Is this an example of “Lost in Translation” or something else?

April 22, 2014

In China, learning English in the public schools is mandatory but speaking English like a native doesn’t always work well when you’re learning from a cartoon character called Mocky the naughty monkey.

Michael Meyer, the author of “The Last Days of Old Beijing” had this to say about Mocky: “Beijing students begin studying English in Grade One. Every child is enrolled in three forty-five-minute lessons each week until the end of elementary school, at Grade Six. Much of Mocky’s instruction is automated, reducing the teacher’s role to leading students through recitations of the dialogues, animated on a disc included with the text. Although Mocky speaks slowly, he sounds as if he’s inhaled some bad helium.”

Recently a friend shared the following e-mail (starts after the 1st video) with me and said it had gone viral among the Chinese. Because I’ve watched a number of Chinese films with English subtitles and knew about Mocky the naughty monkey, it was easy to read the e-mail and believe it was an example of “lost in translation” gone LOL crazy.


The viral E-mail starts next and ends before the 2nd video:

A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel.

She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed. The brochure has been translated directly, word for word, from Mandarin to English.

Getting There:

Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel, because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.

The Hotel:

This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.

The Restaurant:

Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.

Your Room:

Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity!

You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.

Bed:

Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.

Above All:

When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.

The punchline, as it turns out, is that the original e-mail that went viral was an April fool’s joke and one person who thought it was real forwarded it to everyone he knew who forwarded it again—going viral.

Also discover Translating “We Do Chicken Right”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Importing Chinese Students to export American lifestyles

March 18, 2014

American Sinophobes—and there are many—probably won’t want to read this but millions of Chinese students from Communist China have attended American universities and colleges and earned degrees. In fact, according to PewGlobal.org, only 37% of Americans see China favorably.

But that hasn’t stopped some of China’s top leaders sending their children to attend universities in the West. For instance, the Daily Mail.co.uk reported that China’s new ‘first daughter’ attends Harvard under a pseudonym and is protected by Chinese officials 24-7.

Next time you visit USC, MIT, UC Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford or UCLA, look around.  How many Chinese do you see?

PBS reported in November 2013, that “Hundreds of thousands of Chinese students are flocking to U.S. colleges and universities, helping drive the number of international students studying in America to record levels.”

This didn’t start recently and it isn’t free. In fact, it’s expensive for a foreign student to attend a college or university in the U.S.

Since the door out of China opened as early as 1980, more than a million Chinese students have graduated from U.S. colleges and returned to China, which may explain China’s Sexual Revolution in the late 1990s.

It might shock Americans to realize that most of the people in China that have the money to send their children to the US belong to the Communist Youth League or the Communist Party and few who earn a university degree in the US stay. The South China Morning Post reported, “For decades, the rate of return to China remained low as students with advanced degrees did not see opportunities for research at home. Last year, more than 272,000 Chinese returned after completing their education abroad, 86,700 more than in 2011; a 46 percent increase, according to the Ministry of Education.”

Many of these students return to mainland China influenced by what they learned in America.

Imagine, when China’s growth to become a modern nation is complete, the country might turn into a republic and/or democracy influenced by America’s “so-called” socialist, liberal institutions of higher education.

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Is China really responsible for all the lost jobs in the United States?

February 25, 2014

The reason for this post is because I left a comment for “Google robots, iPhone trackers—which sci-fi movie is coming true?” and a guy named Dave [I think it’s a guy] left a reply.

Dave pulled this quote from the comment I wrote: “If we don’t do something soon, the day will come when there are no jobs and no consumers because every job will be automated.” And Dave replied, “What? Have you any proof for this baseless assertion?”

Yes I do, Dave, and I’ll get to that, but first I want to deal with China getting the blame for jobs vanishing in the United States.

Heritage.org says, “Those who attack China often do not examine real economic events: They do not measure actual failed businesses and actual job losses. Instead, they assume the U.S.–China trade deficit means that both production and production jobs are moving from the U.S. to China. … Imports do not cause unemployment; quite the opposite, they are a signal of prosperity and plentiful jobs.”

Cato.org supports what Heritage says: “In the quarter century between 1983 and 2007, as real GDP more than doubled and the real value of U.S. trade increased five-fold, the U.S. economy created 46 million net new jobs, or 1.84 million net new jobs per year.”

If what Heritiage.org and Cato.org says is true, then what’s causing lost jobs in the United States?

First, after the 2007-08 global financial crises caused by US Banks and Wall Street greed, trade between the United States and the world shrunk by 12 percent and six million jobs were lost—jobs that were not lost to China where jobs were also lost.

Did you know that the United States has the largest manufacturing sector in the world, and that China is only number two? (Greyhill.com)

I wouldn’t be surprised if you said no.

Just how large are US exports to the world? NPR.org reported: “In 2011, the U.S. exported goods and services worth $2.1 Trillion”—more than what China sold to the world by about $80 billion. “China exported goods worth an estimated $2.021 Trillion to the world [in 2012] and imported goods from other countries that added up to an estimated $1.78 Trillion.”

At this point you may be confused and ask, “How can the U.S. be the world’s leader in manufacturing when millions of jobs are being lost in that sector?”

Bright Hub Engineering.com offers one answer: “Robots have replaced a lot of activities formerly carried out by a human, with one robot replacing as many as ten workers.”

“In the last fifteen years, manufacturing in the United States has undergone a fundamental shift,” Arena Solutions.com reports. “As millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost to … automation, output has steadily continued to grow. And while U.S. manufacturing output has decreased by only 1% since 1990, manufacturing jobs have decreased by over 30% in the same time period.”

Losing manufacturing jobs is not only happening in the US. The Harvard Business Review.org says, “Manufacturing employment decline is a global phenomenon. As a Bloomberg story summarized: “Some 22 million manufacturing jobs were lost globally between 1995 and 2002 as industrial output soared 30 percent.”

Instead of bashing China, blame the real culprits for millions of lost jobs on robots and the greedy rich who are behind the decisions to replace humans with automation. If one robot can replace ten humans, that’s a lot of money saved leading to increased profits and wealth for the rich.

After all, Robots don’t need Social Security, medical care, retirement plans, paid sick leave or vacations—in fact, they don’t earn any money, even minimum wage with no benefits.

One way to stop this from happening is to pass laws that protect humans from losing jobs to automation.

Other choices are to stay in school and work harder to earn a better education leading to jobs that robots can’t replace any time soon—and stop blaming teachers for a student’s lack of interest, cooperation or laziness. The other choice is to end up working for poverty wages in the fast-food industry or retail stores like Wal-Mart—that is until those jobs are also replaced by robots.

And if you drive an 18 wheeler; work for UPS or FedEx, be warned, Google—for instance—is working hard to take driving cars and trucks away from humans and turn driving over to robots. Meanwhile, Amazon is working on another project to turn delivery of goods bought from its Website over to automated drones that will fly in and deliver what you buy.

Sounds cool until you realize that means an end to a human’s job.

Also discover STEEL (no, not steal) FROM CHINA

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The facts (and the truth) behind China’s #1 International PISA Test Scores

January 28, 2014

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s vocal critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reform.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. The total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are considered the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada. … and—on average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


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